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Stalemate over child sex abuse lawsuit limits continues at Arizona Capitol

State Sen. Paul Boyer opposes an Arizona House bill that would let victims of child sex abuse come forward with civil cases until the age of 30. He called it “a sham,” saying victims usually don't come forward until their 40s. (KTAR News Photo/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — Disagreements over legislation dealing with child sexual abuse victims continue at the Arizona Capitol.

For months, state Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, has been trying to get several bills approved to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to file civil lawsuits against alleged abusers. But he has been met with opposition from Republican leaders.

Boyer said he’s not backing down.

“We’re not going to vote on any budget until we actually get a real solution for getting child predators off the streets,” he said.

Boyer has the support of Sen. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, and a number of Democrats. He has vowed to not vote on the state budget unless the statute of limitations for child abuse victims is extended to his liking.

Legislation to address the issue was introduced last week. House Bill 2746 would give victims of child sexual assault until the age of 30 to file a civil lawsuit.

Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, who introduced the bill, said Arizona currently has “among the worst statute of limitations on civil litigation in regards to child sexual abuse.”

“This is a significant step in the right direction,” he said of the bill.

Boyer called Shope’s bill a “sham” and said it doesn’t go far enough.

“We know that victims don’t come forward on average until the age of 48,” he said. “So by saying that we’re only going to allow you until the age of 30, no matter how much evidence you have, does nothing.”

Currently, Arizona law gives victims until the age of 20 to take civil action against their alleged abusers. There is no statute of limitations on criminal prosecution of child sex abuse.

Boyer has introduced several bills this legislative session that he said “would actually do something to get sexual predators out of circulation and to expose them for who they are.”

One of those bills would give victims a one-time window to file a civil lawsuit against their alleged abuser without any time restriction.

Shope said that one-time window isn’t necessary, because under his bill, victims, regardless of age, would be able to pursue civil litigation if a county attorney files criminal charges against the abusers.

Shope’s bill passed the House Rules Committee on Monday and now heads to the House floor.

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